Just Another Pretty Farce
Datta Dayadhvam Damyata Shantih Shantih Shantih
21 March, 2007
16 March, 2007
The Bullet, She Is Bitten
So. Should I Be Freaked Out?
Well, a few weeks ago I decided to write about Gwen Shamblin and my experience with Weigh Down Workshop. Every word of that blog entry was truthful. It was purely my experience. Nothing more than a recap of events.
However, the post has taken on a life of its own out in Web World. Several people read it each day, and it still gets comments. Now the comment section is populated with various anonymous folks talking about their experiences with the Remnant Fellowship. I've also received emails from people who want my help getting their relatives out of Remnant.
Now, today, I see that I have at least one reader from The Weigh Down Workshop. And I'll be honest. With their track record for suing people, I'm a bit freaked out. Of course I said nothing libellous in the original entry. Who knows, though. I'm still freaked out by it. Especially by the fact that they googled "mycropht coble". Like the Highlander, there can be only one of those....
Jesus' Curby or Take Your Bible And Go Home
I'll be honest. I'm scratching my head over something I don't quite understand here.
Just to review, I'm a devout Christian who firmly believes in the seperation of Church and State. That makes me a devout libertarian. As far as libertarians go, I lean toward the conservative side; assuming that "shut up and leave me alone, government" has more than one 'side' to it.
In all my years of political involvement I've seen widespread criticism of Christianity's involvement in politics. The term Christofascists is employed a great deal now as a way to define those on the hard right who would use the secular law to enforce Christian beliefs in secular society.
Yet when it comes to Global Warming, now people seem to want us involved. Yesterday Jackson Miller wrote an interesting post about his views on Christianity and environmentalism.
Matters are compounded with the belief of reserved eschatology. With the belief that you have already reserved your place in heaven (by taking the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart), you no longer are to be held accountable for your own actions. Not even by yourself. I mean, isn't that what 'grace' is for? You can beat your wife or get blow jobs from a male prostitute in a hotel in Colorado, but you are still going to heaven. Afterall, you love Jesus.
Of course, with paragraphs like that, he would have more rightly termed it an article on Gnostic libertinism, as that's the true nature of the philosophy he erroneously ascribes to Christians. Jackson further posits that
It is when you are certain that the world is ordered and in control, "even if it doesn't seem to make sense right now", that you become incapable of seeing the importance of doing what's right.
This is where it gets very interesting to me. Because this is where Jackson, like many others, assumes an almost religious fervour (sorry, Lesley) in his belief that anthropogenic climate change is an absolute, undeniable truth. Jackson further emplores the brethren to lay down our wife-beating and blow jobs to take up arms in the war in service to this new god of environmentalism.
The thing is, we need you. God needs you, to help turn this thing around. You don't have to do it for me or for my kids. Do it for Jesus. The time is now. We can do this together.
So I guess it is okay to use Jesus in service of political aims, as long as those political aims are on the correct side of a given issue. Okay. Good to know. I marvel in this new realisation that the seperation of Church & State exists only when it comes to abortion and various wars on substances and ideologies.
In fact, not only is it okay to employ Jesus as a battering ram against detractors of anthropogenic Climate Change, it's become downright necessary for some Christians to wish for the deaths of evangelical leaders who espouse any skepticism on the issue. Another fellow I just met yesterday said, in part,
this is going to sound harsh, and i apologise if it offends, but sometimes i honestly and without malice wish that these people would just go ahead and die. that way they’d get to be with God and they wouldn’t be here screwing everything up, discrediting His church, and getting in the way of His work.
I take great offense at all of this. Yes, I realise that Jackson closes with a disclaimer that he's not talking about all Christians. Just the bad ones, it seems.
Funny thing is, I tend to bristle whenever anyone tells me what Jesus' will is for my life. In my practice of Christianity, which looks much closer to that described in the actual Bible than in Jackson's definititon, I have a relationship with the Holy Spirit which pretty much keeps me on top of what Jesus would want me to do. I don't really need the help of any of the rest of the world, especially those who aren't Christians, but pantheists.
When I discuss political issues I tend to prefer to leave the Bible out of it. I realise that my opponants are not always believers, and therefore the Bible is not a germaine text for reference in the discussion. Likewise, I'd prefer if my opponants on this political issue--anthropogenic climate change--would leave the Bible out of it. It's especially galling when they themselves do not believe it, but expect to cherry pick from it to dictate my behaviour. Back off.
15 March, 2007
This post by The Kleinheider was my tipping point.
(Please pardon my use of the phrase 'tipping point'.)
It has nothing to do with Kleinheider himself and everything to do with the fact that I am sick to death of the fanboy love from all quarters for Obama. People talk about him as though he were either Tiger Woods or Secretariat. Can he win? Is he too black? Is he not black enough? Is he too handsome?
Obama is proof that political wonkery is being taken over by the same people who think Anna Nicole's burial is "news". We seldom hear what Obama has to say on this or that issue. Instead it's all about drooling over his qualities and handicapping him for the race.
ugh. I don't know that I can take 15 months of this.
My Little Corner of The Zeitgeist
So I got an email from dolphin, which clued me in to this wonderfulness.
It appears that I'm not the only one who thinks that conspicuous consumption is a poor solution to the world's ills.
As they say:
Join us in rejecting the ti(red) notion that shopping is a reasonable response to human suffering.
Just To Clarify: It Wasn't An Ostrich
I had a wierd moment of cognitive dissonance when we started to watch Lost last night. Watching Charlie make a breakfast fruit plate for Claire it struck me that this no longer feels like the show I started watching three seasons ago. That show was about a group of people thrown together in a harsh circumstance and trying to make the best of it.
I have no idea what this current program is about. But I am glad that we're no longer solely focused on the Other Zoo.
The Oceanic 48 are the ones that make this program worth watching. (Well, 46 of them. I could do without Nikki and Paulo. It doesn't help that Paulo is played by the same dude who so bores me to death as Karl in Love, Actually. )
I liked a whole lot about tonight's episode.
--Much time with many of the original Lostaways
--A really great flashback. I had been spoiled on the big reveal, yet I still enjoyed the story.
I have two complaints.
First off, I really wish someone would smack Locke upside the head with a shovel. He keeps destroying anyone or anything that may involve getting some answers. Last week he blew up a bunch of cows as if they were nothing. Forget a source of meat and milk; it's all kablooie for Locke. What's even worse is that he has this really grating look of feigned ignorance every time he destroys something. As though he were a bumbling idiot. Unfortunately we know better and that makes the whole thing ten times worse, because it's obvious that he's playing everyone for fools in order to meet some unstated personal objective. Which is yet another thing for which we don't have answers.
My second issue is with the 'note' that Claire wrote. This thing was supposed to be attached to a tagged "sea bird" that would eventually fly into the hands of a rescue party. It was a small "sea bird"--roughly the size of a young chicken. The note, however, was approximately nine thousand words long. It started off okay with the basic details and then--much like the show's scripts of late--meandered into the most MySpace emo navelgazing possible. The only thing missing was full lyrics to the last My Chemical Romance Album. Miraculously this very long note fit on a smallish scrap of paper which Charlie then rolled up and attached to the waterfowl. Yes, that's right. I don't think they had any protective case for the message. I truly wonder how they expect a sea bird to get the note to civilisation without waterlogging it. Again, much like Lost scripts of late, the note was sent on its way with no one thinking through the ramfications.
14 March, 2007
Today's conversation at NiT about disposable shopping bags is hitting home with me in a big way.
Right there, in that whole conversation, is hidden the two Achilles Heels of modern environmentalism. (Yes, I know Achilles was only wounded in the one heel, but whatever.)
The conversation is about yet another municipality wanting to ban yet another thing in order to protect us from our miserable adulthood and the responsibilites and privileges thereof. In this case it's San Francisco (surprise!) wanting to ban plastic shopping bags.
As I said over there I remember clearly about 20 years ago when plastic bags became all the rage. They were to save the rainforests, as all of the cute little monkeys and toucans and life-saving wetland bacteria were being destroyed by the felling of trees for Kroger sacks. We could all do our part for the poor tall trees by getting plastic bags. Now caring for the wetlands is old and busted, while worrying over the state of the world's oil fields is the new hotness. So we're back to hating on plastic. So there's Achilles Heel #1. Environmentalism is not seeming very consistant, and at least to me looks like it gives into the latest trends.
Achilles heel #2 is the elitist expense of it all. Nearly everyone agrees that the most environmentally friendly way to carry your groceries home is in a cloth bag of some sort. When I was in school in London I loved the string bags. I try to be as environmentally-conscious as possible without getting an ulcer over the whole thing, so a few years back I went looking for those bags. The good news is that you can order them over the internet. The bad news is that the cheapest seem to hover right around the thirty-dollar mark. I don't know about you, but for me, thirty bucks is hovering in on 'six days' worth of groceries' territory. The plastic doohickies at Food Lion are a whopping 'free'. They'll set you back nothin'. Basically if you've got some extra cash to throw at the dogoodism gods, you're in good shape. You can get you some of those nifty earth-saving bags. But the rest of us down here on the ground are forced to roll a different way.
And yeah, part of me resents that part of the environmental movement in the same way that I resented the kids who wore Jordache in sixth grade. It's as though they think that flashing their money somehow makes them better, more saintly, cooler. It's enough to make me want to ban environmentalism.
Dear Homeless Guy
I, too, could usefive thousand dollars. I already have a home, though. So I don't know exactly what hook I can use to grift it out of people.
I'll even make a deal with you. If I can raise the money I need to get out of homelessness, I'll never bother you again.
How much money will it take this time? Will the $5K be enough? Last time you had a home--about a year ago--that well-meaning people helped you get, you decided that the pressure and responsibilty were too much so you packed your bags and fled to that hotbed of responsibility and reason known as Las Vegas. If you get $5K now, what are your plans for it? How exactly will you spend it to "get out of homelessness"? It's not enough to buy a house. It's not enough to rent an apartment for more than a few months.
I'm tired, and I just want to go home - (if I had a home).
I don't doubt that you are very tired. You yourself have mentioned that you suffer from myriad illnesses that keep you homeless. Given that, how exactly is money going to solve your problem? Is money going to cure your various psychological ailments? I doubt it.
If you are truly serious (again) about leaving homelessness (again), then I suggest you speak to any one of the dozen outreach people available at the Rescue Mission, The Salvation Army or the Nashville Homeless Power Project. They can help you if you truly want to be helped.
If, however, all you want is to gull the Internet out of $5K, then you're doing just fine as is.
The College Scam (92%)
What is it with the number "92%"? I've decided over the last month that whenever anyone quotes me a placement rate of "ninety-two percent" that they're most likely being both untruthful and running a scam.
Last week I asked for information about medical coding. I need to work at home and am tired of what I presently do, so I figured a change would be good. I got at least a dozen emails from various people with concrete information about the field. While I was waiting for those emails I did some calling around to various local for-profit career colleges.
It would seem that the world is full of people who are sick of their current job, wish they could make more money and have swallowed the You Must Have A College Degree line. I personally have bundles of college credits. I can tell you all about the Soviet governmental system, go into excruciating detail about scientific methodology, banter about the high points in human philosophy and analyse fairy tales and novels. Imagine my surprise when none of these skills translated directly into employability. The best use of my college education so far has been the ability to write a few mildly interesting blog posts. Whee!
But these colleges--these for-profit schools--have figured that out. And they've got their patter down to a science. For somewhere between twelve and twenty thousand dollars anyone can receive either a degree or a certification in some type of technical discipline. The placement rate into jobs for these graduates is (you guessed it) 92%. At every single school. University of Phoenix. Tennessee Career College. Remington College. Southeastern Career College.
Now of course I was already wary of "92%", seeing as that was the number the J L Kirk lady gave us. I think from now on I'm going to call "92%" the Carny Number. It's close enough to one hundred to seem like success, but unrounded enough to look factual.
And here is where I say how much I love my readers and other bloggers. Because while I spent most of last Thursday being fed the 92% garbage from various tech schools, I got a whole lot of pure knowledge via email. Tons of truth were laid down in my inboxes. The truth is that there is a glut on the Medical Coder market. You do have to have a degree for medical coding, usually something along the lines of an associate's in Healthcare Adminsitration. The one-year tech certification is not enough. And there are really no at-home jobs available. If you are in the field for a number of years then you can earn a sort of "work-at-home" status, but the major Nashville hirers are all for in-office work. And here's the kicker. A career in medical coding pays somewhere between $25K and $32K. That's a very poor return on your investment in a degree.
The sad fact is that most degrees are good for the knowledge only. Unless you become a degreed licensed professional, i.e. a doctor,nurse, teacher, lawyer or engineer--one of the career paths where a degree is required to become licensed to practice--once you're out in the world of work your college education is nothing more than a nice set of books in boxes in storage. Pretty much everyone knows that by now. The For Profit colleges are playing tricks on people's minds. The public see medicine and law as solid careers, and know that you have to have a degree to be a doctor or lawyer. So these very expensive schools charge a lot of money to give you degrees to be a Medical Secretary or a Paralegal. It isn't worth it, especially knowing you can get the same type of degree for a third the cost from MTSU or TSU. I'm 92% certain of that.
13 March, 2007
The Problem With Jessica's Law
Yesterday I missed out on the blogosphere, and therefore missed out on the discussion of mandatory sentencing for child molesters. I hate coming late to the party, but I really need to go on record.
I believe that mandatory sentences for any crime are a gross abuse of our legal system.
I believe that any time a mandatory sentence is invoked for any crime we have turned from a society of law into a mob on a witch hunt.
Allow me to explain.
The purpose of the justice system is not to exact revenge. The purpose of the justice system is to punish those who have done wrong. The sad and simple truth is there is no punishment that will mend any sense of violation a victim has. Nor is it meant to. I could go on and on about the outdated philosophy of wergild, and how our legal system was revolutionary for assessing an equal value to all lives by dismissing the concept of vengence from our sentencing structure. But that would be eggheadedly pointless, boring as dried dog snot and of interest only to me and maybe three other people.
So allow me to say this:
A mandatory sentence doesn't allow any room for the law to show mercy. It robs the judicial system of absolute justice.
When people think of mandatory sentences for molesters, they imagine locking the door forever on some fellow who fondles little girls on the kindergarten playground.
What they don't realise is that a 17-year old boy who has sex with his 16-year old girlfriend could be convicted of the same crime and under a mandatory sentencing law would receive the same jail term, chemical castration and other penalties as the kiddie-diddling Aqualung. The judges' hands would be tied.
I have no illusions about the depths of sickness in the mind and actions of any sex offender. As we learn more about the human mind and the human animal I have become very much in favour of creating a new criminal class and penal structure for sex offenses. I think things like chemical castration and residential restriction are very good ideas. By all means rob these men and women of their sex drive and make sure they can't live within a certain distance of a school. I am also quite insistent that we remove the statute of limitations on sex crimes, especially as these crimes often involve children who are unable or unwilling to testify until they reach maturity. We should definitely make sentences stricter, too. There are a thousand ways to make the voices of victims heard without removing the blindfold from Justice.
10 March, 2007
When Lawyers Reproduce
The attorney gene is not dying out in my family. I think, rather, that it is becoming intensified through the generations. When my nieces or nephew have children, those kids will probably be Supreme Court Justices.
Allow me to tell a little tale starring my 3-year old nephew, whom we shall call Clarence.
Little Clarence has recently become obsessed with board games, specifically Candyland and Chutes & Ladders. One day last week his grandma and uncle were babysitting him, and sat patiently through several games of Candyland. After awhile, Uncle [we'll call him] Steve said "Clarence, I'm tired. Let's play something else."
Clarence agreed and quietly helped put all the Candyland cards and game pieces away. He then turned off the television and several of the lights.
"What do you want to play now, Clarence?" asked Uncle Steve.
Solemnly, Clarence replied that he wanted to play school. Both grandma and Uncle Steve were amenable to this idea.
"That sounds good, Clarence. And what are we going to do in school today?" asked Uncle Steve.
"Today we're going to learn....
....to play Candyland."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what a lawyer looks like when he's three years old.
Well, since B. wants everyone to blog about something interesting and I mostly write about my own life, I guess we're all outta luck.
But there are a few quasi-interesting things I've experienced in the last 24 hours:
-->Apparently all of Hermitage has PMS today, because they were all in front of me in the McDonald's line. Who knew? And really, is there anything better for easing you through the pains of PMS than a Big Mac, fries and McDonald's coke? No. There isn't.
-->Many of the people who decided to see the 2:15 Imax showing of 300 yesterday are not fans of bathing. Did I mention this was a full theater? Seriously, if a bomb had gone off in there, it would have destroyed the next three earnings quarters at The Great Escape. But there would be plenty of people inheriting their children's comic book & action figure collections. They could use the money to pay for the basement remodelling. And yes, I was there too. What of it? I'm a big nerd, too. But I'm making fun of the other nerds who smelled funny. And sat around me. Apparently "dirty hippies" are now "dirty nerdies".
-->Speaking of bathing...I will never own a Pampered Chef Stoneware piece. Ever. If I get one as a gift I will regift it. I have a rule about dishes, and my rule is this: if it requires more intensive cleaning than my own butt, I have no desire to own it. I want only dishes that can be swished through with water and plunked butt-up in the dishwasher.
-->I have come to believe that Circus Peanuts are a confectionary metaphor for life. Think about it. They teeter in that brink between good and bad, bitter and sweet, soft and hard. The longer they're around, the harder they get and the more bitter they taste. But if you mix a stale Circus Peanut with grape soda you get this interesting fizzy softness that's really kinda cool. Just like life. So much of life can be cured with grape soda.
09 March, 2007
I figured this could either be a short review or a long review. We'll start with the short version for anyone who's in a "too long; didn't read" mood.
This movie rocks. See it at your earliest convenience.
It's been a long time since I've seen a movie I loved as much as I love this one. In fact, the last time I felt this effusive about a movie was in the middle of last June when I effusively praised Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Of course, 300 is a completely different film. It's a stylised retelling of The Battle Of Thermopylae, which stands for all time as one of history's most successful defeats, in that the stand taken by the Spartan forces paved the way for the rise of Western Civilisation.
There's a lot of warrior poetry in 300, which is music to any fan of Braveheart. In fact, 300 is quite nearly the same movie as Braveheart, in its elegiac visual tribute to the sacrifices required of freedom.
I've heard through the grapevine that this movie is supposedly anti-Bush and anti-Iraq war. I've also heard there are those who use the film as a rallying-cry of justification for the current and coming actions. Frankly, I think any group which attempts to justify its political cause with any movie is both oversimplifying their cause and overreaching the utility of the film. Wars are first and foremost a serious matter, whereas movies are first and foremost an entertainment. Trying to Rube Goldberg a philosphy out of the two is scary.
Rest assured, though. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are coming from, there's enough in 300 for you to get lathered over.
The Spartans are all portrayed as brave strong white men. The Persians are portrayed as vile men with various shades of dark skin. This could be perceived as a pro-white/anti-black/anti-hispanic bias.
The Spartans are portrayed as good strong men led only by strength and reason. The religion of Greece is portrayed as corrupt and vainglorious. The religion of the Persian Empire is portrayed as hedonistic and sadistic. Quite a rallying cause for those who look for anti-religious messages.
At one point the Spartan king Leonidas refers to the Athenian Greeks as a group of "boy lovers" and does so with mocking derision. When we see scenes in Xerxes' camp, there are several homosexuals portrayed as lewd temptations. So if you're gay, you can protest this stuff.
The Spartans make a big deal out of discarding any handicapped babies to die in a pit. Xerxes' camp and army is a hive of people with various deformities all behaving villainously. The movie's most hideous villian is also gravely handicapped, and his villainy is ascribed to his handicap.
The movie starts with a wolf-killing, and it's all downhill from there. Especially for those of us who love elephants.
Yep, there's a rape scene. Good times.
So, frankly, I expect to hear loud noises coming from all quarters about the controversies stirred by this movie. Please don't let any of those noises keep you from seeing what may be one of the grandest films I've seen in years. The imagery is absolutely breathtaking. I have never seen a film outside of the Rings trilogy which so completely immerses you in its world. And I've never seen any other single movie do such an excellent job of bringing warrior poetry to the screen.
The only thing I had against the film personally was the fact that my beloved Jimmy McNulty appears as not only a bad guy but as a bad guy politician.
It's Not My Fault That Buttle's Heart Condition Didn't Appear In Tuttle's File!
It makes me so relieved to note that the FBI has underreported its use of the Patriot Act.
In fact, during my moments of meditation I like to ponder this little tidbit:
One government official familiar with the report said shoddy bookkeeping and records management led to the problems. The FBI agents appeared to be overwhelmed by the volume of demands for information over a two-year period, the official said.
"They lost track," said the official who like others interviewed late Thursday spoke on condition of anonymity because the report was not being released until Friday.
Doesn't that warm your heart? Shoddy records management...overwhelmed...lost track.
I honestly don't know where to go with this.
I could point out once again that these folks are employed by the same agency that wants to oversee your health care. (Shoddy records management...overwhelmed...lost track)
I could point out once again that these people are the thin red tape line between us and The Terrorist Horde.
(Shoddy records management...overwhelmed...lost track)
I could point out once again that these are the people who assure us that unconstitutional violations of our civil rights are there for our protection and could never even possibly backfire.
(Shoddy records management...overwhelmed...lost track)
I, for one, certainly feel much safer.
Things I Wouldn't Mind Living Without
>> Stories about Al Gore with the word 'inconvenient' in them; i.e. Al Gore's Inconvenient Gas Bill.
>> The lady in the Wal-Mart grocery store who tried to run me down with her cart because I wasn't walking fast enough for her.
While we're at it, would someone please clue me in as to the whereabouts of the crack dealer in the vicinity of the Hermitage Wal-Mart? I've never been in a store where so many of the patrons seem so willfully oblivious. I swear they're getting all stoked up before doing their shopping. Going there for the least little thing is like a game of Frogger.
>> The water retention which accompanies my fancy new NSAID.
>> The fact that I can't get Cellblock Tango out of my head. I love that song, and I don't want to be tired of it. But boy am I glad that I saw this on Broadway, and have memories unsullied by the presence of Renee Zellweger.
>> Letters from BellSouth begging me to come back.
>> The fact that every single couple in my Sunday School class is going through major drama of one variety or another. I'm starting to try to figure out which one of us is Jonah and should be thrown out the window. Although it's most likely me. Look out, GEC parking lot. Here I come. Pop. Six. Squish. Uh-huh. Oh, wait. Sorry. There's that song again....
>> The new guy playing Octavian on Rome. Max Pirkis was sooo much better.